Mercedes' Nico Rosberg continued his consistent season with a fourth place in the Belgian Grand Prix, a slender two seconds away from catching his team mate Lewis Hamilton that would have given him a place on the podium.
"Fourth place was a reasonable result for me today, and it's great that we achieved a strong points finish for the team with Lewis' third place as well," said Rosberg. "The whole weekend hasn't gone perfectly for me and you are always slightly on the back foot in the race when qualifying doesn't go as well as planned.
The 27-year-old started from fourth on the grid and had a relatively quiet afternoon, staying clear of several incidents further down the field but never really challenging those ahead of him after fending off an attack by Mark Webber's Red Bull and Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
"I had a great start but I wasn't able to go as long as planned on the second stint and I had to cover Felipe," he explained. "In the end, it was nice to keep Mark behind me and get fourth place.
Rosberg is a two-time Grand Prix winner in 2013 but knew it would take a fluke - or some of Spa's notoriously fickle weather - to allow him to add to that tally on Sunday, especially when it became clear during the race that the Mercedes just didn't have the raw speed of its rivals.
"We have a lot of work ahead of us now and we need to look into why we weren't as competitive as a couple of the other teams today," he said.
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn was already analysing what had stopped Rosberg and his team mate Lewis Hamilton from delivering on the potential shown in qualifying on Saturday.
"Perhaps the balance could have been better," he said. "The car didn't look too bad at the end, but I am not sure why we struggled so much in the opening laps when we were sitting ducks. But that is where the car is and we are half a second slower than were we need to be."
Despite this disappointment, Brawn could be reasonably happy with the outcome after Rosberg's 12 points for Mercedes added to 15 from Hamilton meant that the team has edged clear of Ferrari in the battle for second place in the constructor's championship.
"Both drivers delivered a fault-free performance and the team performed well at the pit stops, so we got the maximum out of the car this afternoon," Brawn summed up. "It's a good foundation for the second half of our season and we now need to find a little more performance for the next races."
"Third and fourth positions represent a very solid team result and good points for the constructors' championship," agreed Toto Wolff, director of motorsports at Mercedes. "We can be happy with what we achieved this weekend, and we will keep working hard back at base for the next races."
By Philip Barclay